Report Card: Poonam, Shafali Stand Out For India at Women’s T20 WC
Here’s a look at how Harmanpreet & Co fared in the recently concluded ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.
Team India’s unbeaten run at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 was brought to an end by hosts Australia on Sunday, 8 March. The Meg Lanning-led side inflicted a humiliating 85-run loss on India in the final to lift their record fifth T20 World Cup title.
India, who had beaten Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Sri Lanka comprehensively in the group stages, had a bad day in office with both their bowlers and batsmen surrendering tamely to the mighty Australians.
India’s linchpin Shafali Verma – who lit the tournament with her fearless batting, had an uncharacteristic failure with the bat in the final after dropping an important catch in the field.
The two senior batters in the side – opener Smriti Mandhana and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur – continued their batting slump in the final to end the competition on a dismal note.
Despite none of the Indian batters managing a half-century en route to the final, it was the bowlers who clinched the deal for India with leg-spinner Poonam Yadav and pacer Shikha Pandey leading the way. Unfortunately, the duo couldn’t recreate the magic in the final.
Here’s a look at how Harmanpreet & Co fared in the T20 World Cup Down Under:
Shafali Verma (9/10)
Shafali might have had a bad outing in the most crucial match of the tournament but that won’t take away all the good work she did with the bat en route to the final.
With scores of 29, 39, 46, 47 and 2, Shafali amassed 163 runs from 5 innings. She was unfortunate to miss out on a half-century but her strike rate of 158.25 compensated for that fact.
An aggressive batsman right at the top of the batting order, Shafali cleared the long boundaries at will to not only give India the perfect starts but also helped them post respectable totals when no other batters in the side fired.
Her tally of 9 sixes is joint highest in the tournament along with Australia’s Alyssa Healy.
Smriti Mandhana (3/10)
Just before the tournament, senior pro Smriti Mandhana was the highest run scorer in a tri-series involving hosts Australia and England – the best two sides in women’s cricket. She scored 216 runs in 5 innings at a strike rate of 136.70, including two fifties.
Meanwhile, coming to the World Cup, Mandhana couldn’t even accumulate 50 runs from 4 innings. She managed only 49 runs without even going past the score of 20. Mandhana herself said that Shafali absorbed much of the pressure with her big hitting yet couldn’t take the time to settle down.
Otherwise an elegant left-hander, Mandhana was guilty of giving away her wicket even in the final when she played a half-hearted shot to get caught at mid-off. This was at a time when the side needed her the most.
Harmanpreet Kaur (2/10)
Known for her hard hitting and taking the attack to the bowlers, the skipper hasn’t been in her element since landing in Australia.
Prior to the World Cup, in the tri-nation series Down Under, Harmanpreet might have been the second-highest run scorer for India but her strike rate of less than 100 tells a different story.
Despite the rate at which she was scoring runs, what mattered was that she was still scoring runs at a healthy average of 39.33.
But it has been a disastrous affair since the World Cup started. Harmanpreet managed 4 single-digit scores in her 5 outings. In the final too, the captain couldn’t step up, falling for only 4 runs. Her struggle was evident from her strike rate of 71.42 in the competition.
One of the path-breakers of her generation, the 31-year-old Indian cricketer needs to reinvent herself soon.
Jemimah Rodrigues (4/10)
At 19, Jemimah has already played in her second World Cup. But the number three batsman hardly put her experience to good use.
Coming into bat at the crucial number four spot, Jemimah got starts but failed to convert them. But a bigger concern for her was the rate at which she was striking. Her 85 runs in the competition came off 96 balls, which cannot be justified in a T20 match, especially after Shafali got the side to great starts.
Another cause of worry for Jemimah would be the number of runs she scored in boundaries. With 4 fours and a solitary six to show in the competition, only 25 percent of her runs came in boundaries.
Jemimah really needs to pull up her socks to justify her number three spot.
Taniya Bhatia (6/10)
Wicket-keeper Tanya Bhatia was right on the money as far as her glove work was concerned. However, the same can’t be said about her batting.
Taniya topped the charts in the competition with 10 dismissals to her name, which included 6 catches and 4 stumpings. Lightning quick and acrobatic behind the stumps, Taniya alone was involved in more than 25 percent of the team’s total dismissal.
Not known for her batting prowess, Taniya scored 27 runs in her 3 innings.
Playing in her fiftieth T20I on Sunday, Taniya had to retire hurt while batting during the final but prior to that, her exploits during India’s batting hardly grabbed any attention. She was promoted in some of the games to bat at number three but failed to make an impact.
Deepthi Sharma (7/10)
The all-rounder did well for India in the competition both with the bat and the ball.
Apart from 4 wickets, she is the only batter after Shafali in the the Indian side to cross the 100-mark on the rungetters list. Though her strike rate is below 100, her average of 38.66 is the best among the Indian lot.
Love to score against the Australians, it was Deepthi’s 46-ball 49 which helped India put up a challenging total of 132/4. In the end, the score was good enough for India to get off to a winning start and set the momentum for the competition.
During the final too, it was Deepthi who showed some resistance with the bat. In the end, her 35-ball 33 wasn’t good enough to take India home.
Veda Krishnamurthy (3/10)
One of the senior trio members in the Indian squad, Veda suffered the same fate as the other two in the group – Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur.
Batting lower down the order, Veda hardly got any opportunity to bat in the competition. But, on Sunday, with the Indian top-order losing its course in the final, Veda had an opportunity to step up with the bat. Unfortunately, the best she could manage was 24-ball 19.
Batting at the lower-half of the middle order, Veda’s job is to give Indian batting the able support when anything goes wrong at the top. The way things transpired at the MCG on Sunday, it looks like Veda also needs to up the ante.
Shikha Pandey (7/10)
If Poonam Yadav speadheaded the Indian bowling in the competition, it was Shikha Pandey who gave her the able support.
The pacer starred with the ball, taking 7 wickets in 5 matches. Her best outing was against Australians in the first match. She finished with 3/14.
Shikha gave away less than 6 runs per over in the first three matches but her economy was spoiled in the final when the Australian pair of Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney took her to the cleaners. She ended up giving 55 runs off her 4 overs without taking a wicket.
Her tally of 3 catches is also the most among the Indian fielders barring keeper Taniya Bhatia.
Radha Yadav (6/10)
While among the batters it was a lone show from Shafali Verma, Indian bowlers took turns to shine, match after match, in the tournament.
While Poonam and Shikha led the pack, Radha Yadav also chipped in with six wickets. Her best outing came against Sri Lanka where she dismantled their batting line-up with figures of 4/23. The performance got her the Player of the Match award.
Radha finished the tournament with 6 wickets from 3 matches at an economy of 6.83.
Poonam Yadav (9/10)
The only Indian to feature in the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Playing XI.
It was Poonam, who set the ball rolling for India, with a scalp of 4/19 against Australia in the inaugural match of the tournament. Chasing a low total of 132, the Australians had no answer for her flighted deliveries. Poonam’s haul included the big wickets of Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry.
Poonam recreated the magic against Bangladesh with figures of 3/18. With her exploits, the crafty leg-spinner highlighted the importance of slow left spin in the shortest format of the game.
Poonam finished the tournament as India’s highest wicket taker. With 10 wickets from 5 matches, she is second on most wickets list in the tournament after Australia’s Megan Schutt (13). With an economy of 5.95, she also finished as India’s most economical bowler.
It won’t be a surprise if she is handed a Big Bash League contract this time around.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad (6/10)
Another spinner in the Indian rank, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, did well to pick up 5 wickets from 5 matches.
The best thing about Rajeshwari has been the fact that she has been among wickets in all the five matches while she enjoyed the second best economy rate of 6.25 among the Indians.
Rajeshwari’s best performance came against the Sri Lankan where she finished with 2/18.
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